Hello dear readers,
Chapter 33 of Lead Heart is up!
Dull overhead lights buzzed and dimly lit the inside of a laboratory hundreds of miles from the wandering monks. A small, grungy man, dressed in what used to be a white smock, stuffed his face and glared impatiently at a slowly swirling beaker. The effervescent liquid was gradually changing from its milky white upper half to the crystal-clear gradient at the bottom. The change was excruciatingly slow and he needed the tincture to set before he could retire for the night. His attention was so intense, he missed the no nonsense footsteps just outside.
The thick wooden door exploded off its hinges, pebbles and shards of wood peppered the inside of the room.
He shrieked and leapt back, smearing a plate of food across the dull concrete floor. Brutus watched in mounting trepidation as a shoe the size of his thigh clunked inside the chamber. Then another. The enforcer ducked through the doorway and glowered at Brutus before stepping to one side of the door. Another small giant stepped to the opposite side, arms crossed. The two were almost identical, save the differing facial tattoos; a swirl design on one, the front of a skull on the other.
“Brutus,” purred a sultry voice.
He snapped to attention.
“It’s been a while.”
“H-hello mistress.” He feigned a smile. “A pleasure to see you.” He kept motionless while the lithe figure clad in brilliantly white lab clothes slid through the doorway. The white coat and slim leggings accentuated her platinum blond hair, cropped short in her serious way. His mouth moved wordlessly. His mind raced back in time to figure out what he’d done. The woman sidled into the room, eying her surroundings disdainfully and taking care not to touch any debris scattered on the floor.
“I doubt that,” she smiled. “Nevertheless I find myself in need of a discussion of a particular sort Brutus. Everyone says you’re my guy.” The woman slowly stepped over the myriad of discard until she stood over the nervous subordinate. His eyes shifted, seeing the state of his lab for the first time. The oppressive silence brought him back to the moment and he realized she was waiting for an answer.
He bowed low. “Of course, mistress. What service can I provide to you.”
The sultry tone shriveled into a bitter note as her face transformed to disgust. “I need to know what you’ve done” She said. “I haven’t seen you since the inquiry and I know you’ve been skulking about, using the aerie and bribing the groundskeepers.” The woman’s furrowed brow locked Brutus in place when he moved to step back. He wrung his hands while she continued. “Normally I don’t give a damn what you do quite frankly, especially after your monumental cock up with the girl. But normally I don’t have to stare down the wrong end of a small army outside my office, either. So you’d better have some damn good answers.”
“A what? I don’t know what you mean, Mistress Lilith,” He protested. “My research was aimed at a new breed of hunter to offset the lost revenue from the-”
“What did you make?” Cold blue eyes shot through him.
“I…it was just a few locals put together.” He stammered. “I sampled the small raptors and spliced in a bit of the mindless we have growing outside the walls. I incubated them in the underground tunnels.”
Lilith rubbed the bridge of her nose. “You mashed a zombie fungus into a pack hunter?” She sighed. “Give me your notes.” Delicately manicured nails thrust into his face. Brutus knew better than to refuse, and he especially knew better than to refuse an order from this woman with enforcers by the door. But he’d gotten drunk some weeks ago and tossed the notebook somewhere.
“I have not yet had opportunity to duplicate the notations, mistress. Allow me but a week and I will have a clean copy in your hands, I swear it.” He bowed low again, and this time received a slap to his balding head.
“Do not presume your safety in these halls to be iron-clad Brutus.” She snapped. “Put everything you have in my hands before these two rip it from your dying lips.” The echoed words amplified the violence behind them. Brutus felt the cold steel of the cabinet on his back as she advanced. The metal drawers spewed their contents everywhere, bathing him in foul odors and caustic liquid.
She visibly forced herself to regain control.
“You have one hour from this second to have what I want, where I want it, or I will deliver your head to the gentlemen waving their guns outside my front door.” She loomed over him. “Am I clear?”
Wide eyes wavered between his superior and her loyal muscles before Brutus squeaked an affirmative.
Lilith turned on her heel and strode to the door. Without another look she warned him. “You’d better pray that you or I can find a way to undo whatever you’ve done, or your insides will adorn your outsides before tomorrow dawns.”
The enforcers left.
Brutus melted down.